High heels are often described as shoes to die for. Seen as staple items for modern women, high heels are worn to show a certain degree of authority, independence, femininity as well as sexuality.
In the past, high heels and platform shoes up to 30 inches were worn both by men and women to protect their feet from harmful elements or to indicate a higher social status.
Over time, high heels have evolved into a fashion statement, footwear worn by lay people, royalty and celebrities for every occasion. Fashion role models such as Jackie O, Imelda Marcos, even the Duchess of Cambridge Katherine Middleton adorn themselves in high heels to portray poise, grace and elegance.
Renowned shoe designers never fail to impress customers, as they are constantly bring heels literally to greater heights. Examples include Christian Louboutin’s 8-inch ballet heels (designed for wearers to walk en pointe) or Jeffrey Campbell’s heel less pumps.
While these killer heels make heads turn, are they worth the risk or injury?
Be it stilettos, heel less pumps or three inch heels, walking in shoes with heels higher than your toes not only limits your mobility but also poses a host of health risks to your feet, body and posture.
After all, the Italian word ‘stiletto’ comes from the Latin word ‘stilus’ which means a thin bladed dagger in. Where high heels are concerned, the phrase “Beauty is Pain” is almost spot-on, if there is any truth to a research paper by Arielle Abeyta titled ‘Four Inches Closer to Heaven’.
According to Abeyta, a fashion and gender studies researcher, 90% of foot surgeries in United States are performed on women. When wearing high heels, a woman puts tremendous pressure at the ball of her feet, which in turn stresses her spine and affects her posture. The elevation could lead to physical problems such as sprained ankles, back and neck pain as well as joint problems.
If high heels are your daily footwear, you might want to consider investing in new shoes that are friendlier to your feet. Wearing high heels daily or more than five days in a week can cause changes to your muscle and tendon. If this persists, you will find wearing flats excruciating some day.
As your feet are elevated from the ground, you are essentially performing a balancing act between your heel and the ball of your feet, hence increasing your chances of falling and injuring yourself.
Most women are able to relate to embarrassing incidents such as having their heels sinking as they walk through the lawn, tripping when walking on a pebbled pavement or having their heels stuck to the anti-slip mat in the bathroom. For some, it may have been a close call from injuring themselves but for others, it result in a visit to the hospital from an ankle sprain, back injury or other injuries.
THE GLASS SLIPPER DOES NOT FIT!
Many women tend to take their feet for granted. Many are willing to compromise comfort for stylish footwear that are poor fitted or cheap footwear that are not designed correctly which may lead to discomfort and worse, injuries.
Some women can be so head over heels with a pair of heels that they are willing to buy one the last pair in a store even if it happens to be a size smaller, hoping that the shoe will expand after wearing it a few times.
Squeezing your feet into the narrow toe box of your stilettos may cause more harm than you can imagine. Apart from aching feet and poor blood circulation, squeezing your feet into the narrow front of your shoes can have serious health repercussions.
For instance, bunions are more common among women due to the long-term effect of wearing narrow front shoes and high heels. Bunions are a bone deformity that occurs at the base of the big toe. It is formed when the big toe pushes up against the other toes.
Other form of injuries include nerve damage, hammer toes, bone death and stress fractures.
If you simply cannot live without high heels, look for those with wide toe rooms and cushioned in-soles. Do not compromise on comfort and safety.
VARIETY IS KEY!
Shoes that do not provide sufficient sole support is bad for your bones and posture as well, such as flip flops. It is important to have a balance. Have a variety of shoes with different heights so that you can switch between them. Save the high heels only for special occasions. Look for shoes with in-soles that support the arch of your feet and are well cushioned to absorb pressure with every step you take. It is essential to ensure your feet are well supported to avoid injuries.
SHOPPING FOR SHOES?
• Buy shoes in the evening when the feet have expanded to their full size.
• Ensure feet and toes should not be squeezed together.
• Walk around the store to determine whether your feet are well supported and the shoe fits well.
• When the shoe is removed, ensure that your feet do not have any red marks that may indicate that the shoe does not fit right.
• It is normal to have one foot slightly larger than the other.